Real-time WordPress.com subscription

Going nowhere fastSometimes RSS isn’t fast enough. We’ve been experimenting with faster blog subscription delivery using Jabber to push the messages. When you use Jabber to subscribe to blogs you get the news as soon as it is published. Now almost every post and comment on WordPress.com blogs is published this way and you can subscribe to these streams using almost any Jabber client. Messages are delivered typically within one second of publication. You can also publish to your blogs by typing instant messages. Soon comments will be appearing in Jabber chat rooms.

Let me break it down. Jabber (XMPP) is an instant messaging protocol. There are dozens of free clients (programs) that can connect to Jabber services, thousands of Jabber servers, and millions of daily Jabber users around the world. Even some phones can connect to it, including the iPhone with an appropriate app. So you can probably use Jabber. The primary exception is people behind company or government firewalls that block XMPP ports, but we’ll have a web-based solution for them soon.

Before I give you a link I have to tell you that this service is experimental. If you use it, you are a tester so please wear your white lab coat. A few dozen people have been using it for several months with very few hiccups, but hiccups are still to be expected. Even so, most of us at Automattic rely on it daily to surface and accelerate the discussions on our private blogs. Finally I must tell you that we have not yet worked out all the business angles, so the feature set and limitations may change to accommodate our inevitable need to feed the monkey.

Now I give you im.wordpress.com, which I demonstrated at the CrunchUp last week. Every WordPress.com account is automatically linked to a Jabber account on im.wordpress.com. We have compiled instructions for setting up some popular Jabber clients.

If you want my personal recommendation for a Jabber client, my choice for Mac OS X is Adium. If you already use iChat, just stick with iChat. Some of my coworkers who run Windows have chosen Pidgin. I also sometimes use Psi, which is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Here is some info for people familiar with XMPP. This service is based on XEP-0060 (Publish-Subscribe) acting as a front-end for WordPress blogs. It started as a simple firehose for our commercial partners and grew from there. People subscribing with Jabber clients don’t need Pubsub. They send simple commands to a chat bot and their items are delivered as XHTML-IM from the blog’s URL. The bot speaks XEP-0060 on their behalf. If you can speak XEP-0060, you can connect to pubsub.im.wordpress.com and subscribe to nodes. The nodes for this blog are /blogs/andy.wordpress.com/ for posts, /blogs/andy.wordpress.com/comments/ for all comments, and /blogs/andy.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/real-time-wordpress-com-subscription/ for comments on this post. Node discovery and item discovery and retrieval are not implemented. Reasonable subscription and traffic limits will be imposed. If you are looking for a complete feed of all our blogs and comments, try the firehose.